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Independent Ad Firm Challenges 24/7, DoubleClick in Asia

With 80 sites and 300 million monthly page views in Asia, Hong Kong Internet ad firm Space Asia Media is giving U.S.-based ad giants 24/7 Media and DoubleClick a run for their money in Asia.

Space Asia has also signed up some key online publishers to its network that include Sohu, Alta Vista Asia, ZDNet Taiwan, Singapore Press Holdings, PC Home, The China Times, Foodeasy and Utusan.

According to company founders Collin McIntosh and Matt Harty, Space Asia has been attractive to publishers and advertisers because it provides advanced ad management and tracking technology and an independent, experienced team of consultants. Including its regional director, Space's management team has close to 30 years in Asian advertising and media sales.

"We know Asia. We haven't been flown in," says McIntosh, Space Asia's managing director. "We have an independence."

McIntosh refers to the fact that the Asian franchises of 24/7 and DoubleClick are operated by Internet content providers and therefore cannot be independent advertising networks.

24/7 is operated by China.com Corp., which has four portals in China and is managing America Online's operation in Hong Kong. Sources say that DoubleClick has partnered with Tricast, which also runs CNET, E!Online, and MTV in Asia.

"I think that their business model is not complimentary to publisher's interests," says McIntosh. "It's not complimentary because on the Internet you can gather a lot of information about a publisher's user base."

If a publisher's information is in the hands of an advertising firm who are tied to the publisher's competitor, this presents a strategic problem for the publisher, continued McIntosh.

For its ad management technology, Space Asia uses Engage's highly scalable Accipter AdManager 4.0 which schedules and targets ads, rotates inventory, and generates customized reports.

However, Accipter's major advantages over other ad management solutions include its worldwide geo-targeting database and the opportunity to utilize Engage's Global Knowledge database to profile visitors to sites. This provides more accurate demographic and behavioral data for publishers, indicates McIntosh.

The Global Knowledge database contains anonymous profiles of thousands of users and is so valuable that Engage competitors like AdForce are queuing up to use it.

Although such advance ad tracking technology is not that useful in Asia's nascent Internet advertising industry, Space Asia projects that will be valuable in the not to distant future.

The firm is helping to build the Global Knowledge database in Asia. "We are gathering clickstream in Asia," says McIntosh. "This will allow Asian publishers to track the demographics and behavioral patterns of users that come to Web sites."